Chelsea midfielder and mooted Manchester United target Cesc Fabregas is enjoying a "fantastic" relationship with manager Antonio Conte after successfully carving out a place in the Italian's first-team plans at Stamford Bridge.
Fabregas was not able to break up the midfield partnership of N'Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic last season, with Conte initially plumping for aggression and athleticism over creativity during his premier campaign in England.
The Spaniard's status as a fringe player at Chelsea inevitably led to concerns over his future - he was linked with a £27m move to AC Milan earlier this year while United were reportedly monitoring his contract situation - but after proving his worth to Conte during the embryonic stages of the current campaign the Blues are now hoping to tie him down to a longer contract, a prospect that did not seem at all likely just a few months ago.
"I would be lying if I say that I wasn't worried [about my future]," Fabregas said in a press conference ahead of Chelsea's clash with Atletico Madrid, relayed by ESPN.
"Maybe worried is not the right word. I wasn't playing, I wasn't really part of his initial plans and at that point you can do two things. You can just give up and accept you are not going to be part of the team or the club in the future.
"The other is what I did: put your head down and be humble, work hard, train hard in every session, show him that he's wrong, that he can trust you, that you can play in this team. That's what I did, and every time I had an opportunity I gave my all.
"From then on we started to create a relationship, and I think I would say now that my relationship with the manager is fantastic. He trusts me, I know what he wants from me and I know exactly what I can give to the team. I understood his philosophies, his methods of training, and I adapted very well.
"I must say I'm very proud of this. At the same time I'm very happy because I'm where I want to be. That's all down to belief, trust and hard work."
United reportedly saw Fabregas as an alternative to Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, who is destined to leave north London at the end of the season when his contract expires, but Chelsea are keen to ward off any interest in their prized playmaker by offering him a new contract.
The Blues may have to compromise over the rule of handing players aged 30 and over 12-month contracts, with the Spaniard said to be after a two-year extension.